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A break-through edition for Art Basel's Hong Kong show due to new March dates
Visitors crowd around Australian artist Sam Jinks' "Untitled (Kneeling Woman)" at the Art Basel fair in Hong Kong on March 15, 2015. Hong Kong's biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors with thousands of visitors expected for a city-wide canvas of creativity and commerce. AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE.

HONG KONG.- The first edition of Art Basel's show in Hong Kong to take place in March attracted leading galleries, private collectors and arts institutions from across the world, many attending the show for the first time. Art Basel's third Hong Kong edition closed today, Tuesday, March 17, 2015, with galleries from the East and West reporting very strong sales throughout the show and across all levels of the market. Several years in the making, the move to March has further confirmed Art Basel's position as the leading international art fair in Asia and marked a strong debut for Art Basel's new Director Asia, Adeline Ooi.

Art Basel's show in Hong Kong, whose Lead Partner is UBS, presented 233 galleries with exhibition spaces in 37 countries and territories. Underlining its commitment to the region, half of the participating galleries once again had exhibition spaces in Asia and Asia-Pacific. With the new March dates, the line-up of galleries proved to be the strongest to date for the Hong Kong show, with 29 galleries exhibiting at Art Basel in Hong Kong for the first time, including 20 galleries from Europe and the United States. Across its sectors, the show provided a unique in-depth overview of the art scenes within Asia, presenting Asia's diversity, and showing both historical material as well as cutting-edge works by leading and emerging artists from across the region.

The show was attended by nearly 60,000 visitors (slightly less than in the previous year when the show was open to the public for one day longer). The fair was marked by the first-time attendance of major collectors as well as museum directors and curators from international arts institutions. Directors, curators, trustees and patrons from leading museums and institutions came to the show, including 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; CAFA Museum, Beijing; Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore; Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; M Woods Museum, Beijing; Min Sheng Museum, Shanghai; Modern Art Oxford, Oxford; M+, Hong Kong; MoMA, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; Museum of Contemporary Art and Design Manila; National Art Gallery, Singapore; OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen; Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; Serpentine Gallery, London; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tan Guobin Art Museum, Hunan; Tate, London; The Australia Arts Council for the Arts, Sydney; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Royal Academy, London; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; and Yuz Art Museum, Shanghai.

Galleries participating in the show spoke highly of their experience:

‘I was invigorated by seeing so many new young collectors from this region interested in our program, and most especially our figurative painters. This fair is the fair in Asia, and the presence of artist Neo Rauch here with the gallery was incredibly well received and energizing for us all. Sales exceeded our expectations.’ David Zwirner, Owner, David Zwirner Gallery (New York, London)

‘Another excellent year! Art Basel continues to further establish itself as the most important fair for contemporary art in Asia. We’ve had an outstanding fair this week with record sales achieved in the first 48 hours. Opening in March has proved a success. ’ Neil Wenman, Senior Director, Hauser & Wirth (Zurich, London, New York, Los Angeles)

‘This year we have sold to collectors from all over Asia – Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong – as well as from Europe and the United States. We find that collectors here are not bound by geography – contemporary art in Asia is very free in this respect – and it has been wonderful to exhibit in a platform that allows for conversations that are not bound by traditional East / West paradigms.’ Daniel Roesler, Director, Galeria Nara Roesler (São Paulo)

Galleries, the main sector of the show, featured 179 Modern and contemporary art galleries, presenting the highest quality of painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography, video and editioned works. Leading international galleries showed at Art Basel's show in Hong Kong for the first time, including Air de Paris (Paris), Galerie Gisela Capitain (Cologne, Berlin), Thomas Dane Gallery (London), Herald St (London), kamel mennour (Paris), Mai 36 Galerie (Zurich), Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art (New York), Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder (Vienna), Andrea Rosen Gallery (New York), and Esther Schipper (Berlin), among others. Exhibitors who returned to the show after a brief hiatus included Gladstone Gallery (New York, Brussels), Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg, Cape Town), Dominique Lévy Gallery (New York, London), and Sprüth Magers Berlin London (Berlin, London, Los Angeles). A number of galleries who had been showing in Discoveries or Insights in the past years graduated into the main sector of the show where they gave strong presentations of their galleries' programs. These include The Drawing Room (Manila, Singapore), Sullivan+Strumpf (Sydney), and Edouard Malingue Gallery (Hong Kong), who previously exhibited within Insights, and Aike-Dellarco (Shanghai), Carl Freedman Gallery (London), Karma International (Zurich), mother’s tankstation (Dublin), Take Ninagawa (Tokyo) and Leo Xu Projects (Shanghai), who graduated from Discoveries.

The Insights sector again proved to be a highlight of the show, dedicated to curatorial projects by 34 galleries with spaces in Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, and featured solo shows, exceptional historical material, and strong thematic group exhibitions. Sited at the heart of both floor levels, Insights provided a detailed overview of art from across the region with artists from Australia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, India, Japan, Mainland China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Palestine, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Highlights from the Insights sector included a record number of strong solo shows: Artinformal (Mandaluyong City) presenting Nilo Ilarde; Misa Shin Gallery (Tokyo) showing Tadashi Kawamata; a focus by Rossi & Rossi (London, Hong Kong) on Leang Seckon, one of the foremost members of the emerging Cambodian contemporary art scene; Galerie Ora-Ora's (Hong Kong) showing of works by contemporary Ink protégé Zhang Yanzi, creating an unprecedented four-dimensional experience; art-historical projects by Australian indigenous artist Yhonnie Scarce at dianne tanzer gallery + projects (Melbourne) and by Malaysian artist Anurendra Jegadeva at Wei-Ling Gallery (Kuala Lumpur, Penang); a performance by Nezaket Ekici at Pi Artworks (Istanbul, London); an exhibition of Thai artist Yuree Kensaku by 100 Tonson Gallery (Bangkok), looking at the recent political situation in Thailand; and a selection of black and white photographs by Japanese artist Noritoshi Hirakawa at 55 (Shanghai).

The Discoveries sector presented a particularly strong showcase of emerging artists from around the world with solo and two-person exhibitions by 20 galleries, seven of which were new to the show.

This year, Art Basel and BMW presented the first iteration of the BMW Art Journey, a joint initiative to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide. Like a mobile studio, the BMW Art Journey will take artists almost anywhere in the world to develop new ideas and envision new creative projects. During the show, an international jury selected the shortlist of three artists showing in Discoveries: Mika Tajima with Eleven Rivington (New York), Trevor Yeung with Blindspot Gallery (Hong Kong) and Samson Young with am space (Hong Kong). The winner of the BMW Art Journey will be announced in early summer 2015.

In addition to Trevor Yeung and Samson Young in Discoveries, the show featured further homegrown talents across all sectors including Au Hoi Lam, Chow Chun Fai, Frog King, Hung Fai, Koon Wai Pong, Lee Kit, Leung Mee Ping, Wai Pongyu, Chui Puichee, Sara Tse and more.

Curated for the first time by Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director of Artspace in Sydney, this year's edition of Encounters transformed the exhibition halls, creating a completely new visitor experience. Encounters presented 20 artworks by artists from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. Dedicated to presenting large-scale sculptural installations that transcended the traditional art fair booth, the sector premiered new work by David Claerbout, Dzine (Carlos Rolon), Taeyoon Kim, Zai Kuning, Yang Maoyuan, Dane Mitchell, Eko Nugroho, João Vasco Paiva, Shooshie Sulaiman, Gao Weigang and Zhao Zhao alongside previously exhibited pieces by Mikala Dwyer, Cao Fei, Siobhán Hapaska, Wang Keping, Hew Locke, Tallur L.N., Xu Longsen, Sterling Ruby and Lee Ufan.

The Film sector, which debuted in Hong Kong last year, presented 38 works by 36 artists, exploring seven diverse themes curated by Beijing and Zurich-based multi-media artist and producer Li Zhenhua, and was attended by over 300 guests over four days. Highlights of the program included seminal works from the 1960s and 70s by Marina Abramović and Michael Craig-Martin, alongside important video work by Yu Cheng-ta, Cheng Ran and Yan Xing, and many others. New works by Chen Tianzhuo, Lu Yang and Song Kun were premiered within the sector. The Art Basel film program was shown at the agnès b. CINEMA at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, offered free to the public.

Conversations and Salon, Art Basel’s talks program, attracted over 1,200 visitors over three days and presented renowned cultural figures from Asia and across the international art world. This year, the Premiere Artist Talk, featured Chinese artist Cao Fei in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Serpentine Gallery, London. A collectors' panel consisting of Alan Lau, Member of Tate’s Asia Pacific Acquisition Committee, Hong Kong; Anurag Khanna, Director, Carbon Edge Industries, who was named Forbes Young Collector 2014, from Gandhidham, India; and Phillip Keir, CoFounder of the Keir Foundation and Chairman of the Biennale of Sydney, shared insights into trans-pacific collecting. The program also included a panel discussion entitled 'Moving Without Moving: How Global Institutions Travel', with Joselina Cruz, Director/ Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Manila, Philippines; Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director of Nanyang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore; Doryun Chong, Chief Curator, M+, Hong Kong and Philip Tinari, Director, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, who discussed the opportunities and challenges of attracting local audiences with an international program. The afternoon Salon program – a platform for shorter, often more informal presentations – featured talks and panel discussions with artists, curators, museum directors, professors and researchers.

This year, Art Basel and the International Commerce Centre (ICC) worked with renowned international Chinese artist Cao Fei to present a major new work during the show. ‘Same Old, Brand New’, which references video games from the 1980, was shown across the entire façade of Hong Kong’s iconic 490 meter high ICC on the Kowloon harbor front every night throughout the show. The work will continue to be displayed until the end of April. The show was accompanied by the ICC Light and Music Show smartphone app which allowed audiences to enjoy the music while watching from the shores of Victoria Harbor.

In addition, Art Basel worked closely with key cultural organizations across the city on an associated program of events onsite and throughout the city. Highlights included ‘Mobile M+: Moving Images’ at Broadway Cinematheque, Midtown POP and Cattle Depot Artist Village; ‘Life is only one: Yoshitomo Nara’ at Asia Society Hong Kong Center; ‘In Stasis – Sarah Lai’ and ‘A Hundred Years of Shame: Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations’ at Para/Site; ‘Stationary’ at Spring Workshop, ‘Inside China – L’Intérieur du Geant’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘Felix Gonzalez-Torres Billboard Project’ at K11 Art Foundation.

With Art Basel moving into March, the Hong Kong Tourism Board named March Hong Kong's 'art month'. Throughout the month, a wide range of arts and cultural events are taking place within the city including art fairs, arts festival, public arts and exhibitions presented by galleries and museums.

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